Jan Krentz is a fun and fascinating quilter and quilting instructor. She recently joined our ranks to teach the Craftsy class Diamond Quilt Designs. Here, she sits down with us to share some background on who she is, what she loves about quilting, how she gets inspired, and more.
I’m Jan Krentz, the instructor for Diamond Quilt Designs on Craftsy.com. I got started quilting during high school. I took a lot of home ec classes. My mother was a clothing construction artist, and she sewed most of our clothes when we were children. And it was just a natural progression from all the other needle arts I was doing already. I did cross stitch, crewel, knitting—all different types of needlework. Then after high school, I thought I needed to make a quilt for my bed in college. And that was really the start of the whole thing.
I enjoy teaching because I learn as much as I share in the classes. Every experience and exposure to students gives me the opportunity to grow and learn myself. I find that no matter where you go in the world, there are inquisitive people. They have a desire to learn new things. And it’s a rare opportunity that you have something to share that others want to learn. So I enjoy teaching because it’s a give-and-take, and exchange of information. And it’s heartwarming to see how many wonderful people there are in the world.
I’ve always been drawn to medallion designs. There’s a formality and structure to them that’s beautiful to me. They’re very intricate, they require a lot of precision. Star quilts have always attracted me. They have a geometric beauty that I find very appealing. As a result, I started working on eight-pointed designs, eight-pointed stars. Those are 45-degree diamonds, and as I kept playing with the different patterns, it would lead me one into the next, into the next. And eventually, you’re working in a series, and every design you work on generates more ideas for different designs, and you just get carried away. Away you go!
There are many designs that have pieced backgrounds. And then the quilt artist will add applique to the surface. The pieced background gives it an underlying structure, which I find quite interesting. The geometry of a pieced background looks beautiful with an appliqued surface. So it’s the contrast of the two. There’s the subtle structure of the pieced work behind the organic flow of the applique. So I find the two together quite beautiful. Many quilt artists use a pieced background to showcase their applique work.
Inspiration can come from so many different places. Sometimes it’s just a niggling idea. You wake up in the middle of the night. You have a thought, and you think, “Oh, I wonder what would happen if I did this step and that process? Or, what would happen if I combine these colors that I’ve not worked with before?” Occasionally, you find a wonderful piece of fabric, and that piece of fabric is the source of inspiration. It leads you to test new ideas, new designs, so that you can showcase or integrate that fabric with some that you already own. Occasionally, you’re working on a project where you need to work in a series, and therefore you need to create designs that are different from one another but still have the same basic elements. So inspiration can come from a variety of places. It’s not just one source or one idea.
Quilting brings people together in so many ways. It’s a very unique community. Some people are attracted by the beauty of the quilts themselves. Some people are attracted by the productive use of your time. Quilt-making can be very challenging. There are a lot of different aspects to it. People come from all different avenues. Some are painters. Some are graphic designers. Many quilters today are professional people that have now retired. They’re still quite alert and bright and they love solving problems with their brilliant minds. It’s challenging to figure out the dimensions, how you’ll construct a project, and how you’ll select your fabrics, how it will be unique to your own style and preference. So I think there are a great number of reasons people become quilters, and it’s very rare to meet someone who’s an ex-quilter. Once they join a quilting community, they meet others who are avid quiltmakers, they continue to meet friends, and it’s just a great social outlet, as well as a mentally stimulating and creative outlet. And at the very end, you have a very useful quilt that you can snuggle under.